An allegory about credit scores

“Hi there, come in! Thanks for applying to house-sit for us. Please take a seat. I’ve looked over your application, and almost everything looks good.”


“We’ve talked to people you’ve house-sit for in the past, and they all have great things to say about you. Looks like you always keep everything clean, don’t eat too much of their food, take care of their pets, and–oh, even mow their lawns. Nice. We’ve also done a quick background check to make sure you don’t have any criminal history or arrests, and that came back clean.”

“Okay. So what’s the problem?”

“Well, it’s your drinking score, I’m afraid.”

“My what?”

“Yes, we’ve checked your drinking score with all three of the major drinking reporting agencies, and it looks like your drinking score just isn’t has high as we’d like.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, from looking at the drinking report, it looks like you used to be doing pretty well. When you drank, you never assaulted anyone, never drove drunk, and always got yourself home without incident. But then it looks like for the past couple years, there’s been no activity on your drinking report at all, so your score has been going down.”

“That’s because I stopped drinking.”

“Yes, I can see that by your report. But why would you want to do that?”

“I’m an alcoholic. Every time I let myself drink, I got drunk. I didn’t like what it was doing to my life.”

“O … kay. I guess I can understand that. Unfortunately, not drinking at all has led to a hit on your drinking score.”

“So what? What does drinking have to do with house-sitting?”

“We–along with rental agencies, insurance companies, and employers–use that score to determine how responsible you are. Your previous score had shown that you’re a responsible person, so we would have been more comfortable letting you watch our house for us.”

“More responsible? I was a drunk. Now I’m not.”

“Yes, but you were a responsible drunk. Now we don’t know what you are.”

“I’m a person.”

“Of course you’re a person. It’s just a lot easier for us to see you as a number, and your drinking score is a convenient number for us to use. Without that number, we’ll have to assume you’re irresponsible and reckless.”

“What? Why? What does drinking have to do with anything?”

“Voters passed a law saying that we could use that score for determination of general trustworthiness in any area of life. I mean, you’ve basically agreed to it, so I don’t know why you’re questioning it now.”

“I’m pretty sure I didn’t personally agree to that, and even if I did, I may have been drunk at the time.”

“It’s not too late. You can work to bring your drinking score back up, and maybe next time we need a house-sitter it’ll be high enough for you to qualify.”

“… How would I do that?”

“Just have one drink a week, and it should start to go back up.”

“But I told you, I’m an alcoholic. It’s really hard for me to just have one drink.”

“Most people are able to have just one drink.”

“Good for them. I know myself, and it’s much, much easier for me to avoid drinking altogether than to try to limit it to one drink a week.”

“Well, that’s your choice. But without a good drinking score, it’s going to be tough for you to get good insurance rates, rent an apartment, or even get a job, because everyone’s going to assume you’re a deadbeat.”

“Despite a clean driving record, no criminal history, and lots of personal recommendations to the contrary?”


“That’s ludicrous.”

“Maybe, but it’s legal–remember, you voted for it probably–so that’s how it’s going to continue to be. You can either try to bring your drinking score back up, or accept that everyone will treat you like a deadbeat for the rest of your life no matter how wealthy or successful you become or how good your personal reputation is.”

“Wow. I … guess I’ll pick up a six-pack on the way home, then.”

About Shawna

author of mostly fantasy and romance